“Fashion is the armor to survive the reality of everyday life. I don’t think you could do away with it. It would be like doing away with civilization.” – Bill Cunningham
It’s funny, sometimes I think I knew more about art when I was a teenager than I do now. I believe it is something to do with the proverbial hardening, the loss of innocence that comes with time. I imagine sometimes that the best art, and the best understanding of art, happens through the hand, or the eyes, of a child. I suppose people are more honest and more clear when the ego is set aside. Are the true artists the Peter Pans of the world, showing us through their work what it feels like in Neverland?
What moved me about Bill Cunningham in the documentary was my impression that he was such an artist, that he would never even dream of calling himself by that descriptor. His personality, his work, his life, everything about him is so sincere and devoid of ego, let alone pretension. He just is. And, what he is is a person that lives life in wonder. Though he blows out candles on a blue-and-white frosted cake on his 80th birthday, he experiences and engages with civilization through his photography with a sense of curiosity that reminds me of a younger me.
Bill Cunningham New York entertained and inspired me in many, many ways, but what really stood out was the topic of age, or agelessness, to be precise. It made me think that it really is the little kids who are on to something. Maybe people forget what they knew in their hearts as children when they become adults. Maybe wisdom happens when you have enough retrospect to notice that you had it right the first time. Or maybe you are lucky like Bill Cunningham, and you never forget to always celebrate life!